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Match Reports

Blades 4-0 Reading - report

16 February 2019

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A fifth straight home league victory was never in doubt, as United climbed back up to second spot in the Sky Bet Championship by scoring four past Reading.

Kieron Freeman got the ball rolling in the first minute, before Gary Madine helped himself to a first-half brace. In the second period, John Fleck added a fourth to cap an impressive all-round display.

Following the exertions of the midweek victory over Middlesbrough, boss Wilder made four changes, including a debut for Hogan. Madine also started, whilst Sharp, McGoldrick and Dowell dropped to the bench.

United got off to the best possible start inside a minute. Madine engineered space for Duffy down the left channel and FREEMAN arrived at the back post to scramble the ball home. The Blades had another chance minutes later, but Stevens headed over from a promising position, after Madine and Cranie had combined to fashion an opportunity.

Norwood was the first to see yellow from referee Jones, having caught Kelly on halfway. In the 16th minute though there was no stopping the Blades adding a second. Fleck looked to seized on a Reading mistake, Hogan was clever and didn't get involved from an offside position and after Fleck then challenged Moore, the ball fell kindly for MADINE to slam home his first goal for United.

It was the Blades who continued to pour forward in numbers, Fleck again picked up on a Reading error before advancing and forcing Martinez into a low save. In response, the visitors had a couple of efforts of their own, but Barrow fired over, before Henderson saved a tame shot from Meite. Madine continued to be a real handful for United and Hogan almost capitalised on another knockdown, but Martinez was alert to the danger and claimed the loose ball.

Martinez was having a busy afternoon, this time saving from Duffy, after the midfielder had found plenty of space in the final third. With a minute of the first period remaining, United's dominance transferred into a third goal, Johnson found space on the left, Hogan challenged at the near post, before that man MADINE fired into the roof of the net, despite the attentions of Miazga.

Within four minutes of the restart the Blades had picked up where they'd left off. FLECK found more space from 30 yards and his effort took a deflection off the heel of Miazga to totally wrong foot Martinez. United continued to pour forward in search of a fifth, Norwood was denied, before Hogan's effort from Madine's saw Moore take the pace off it with a block.

With the hour approaching, Cranie was booked after catching Meite. But referee Jones was unmoved as Yiadom tried to win a penalty after running into a couple of retreating defenders. Back on the attack, Madine played in the onrushing Johnson, but Martinez again came to the Royals rescue before Moore hacked clear.

With 19 minutes, skipper Norwood received a standing ovation for another notable contribution. Still the chances came and Hogan thought he'd netted his first in front of the Kop, only for Martinez to tip over his lob, which seemed destined to land in the net. McCleary fashioned an opening for Swift which he wasted, before Madine's efforts were recognised by the home faithful, as he was replaced by Dowell.

The clock was ticking down, but Henderson was in no mood to be beaten, denying Baker from distance. As three minutes of added time were signalled, Baker tried his luck again, but it was to no avail as United registered a fifth straight home league victory.

Blades: Henderson, Stevens, Fleck, Hogan, Egan, Madine (Dowell 84), Norwood (Coutts 71), Freeman (Stearman 77), Duffy, Johnson, Cranie.
Unused: Lundstram, Sharp, McGoldrick, Moore.

Reading: Martinez. Yiadom, Moore, Baker, Barrow, Ejaria (Bodvarsson 45), Miazga, Meite, Oliveira (McCleary 75), Richards, Kelly (Swift 18).
Unused: Gunter, O'Shea, Harriott, Walker.

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